Sunday, July 31, 2022
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
—2 Timothy 4:3-4
I don’t normally do a Sunday post like this, but I had a migraine yesterday and took my medicine. I was fine for a few hours and then I just could not stay awake long enough to write a Sunday post. However, I’d seen the above cartoon sometime last week, and I thought of these Bible verses that I thought would be a perfect accompaniment.
Saturday, July 30, 2022
Friday, July 29, 2022
Monday, I’ll be given my first dose of a new headache drug that my neurologist thinks shows great promise. The medicine is called VYEPTI and it’s a 30-minute IV treatment every 3 months. She thinks this might be a good option for several reasons. First, there are very few side effects. Second, for people who had limited success on Emgality, like I did, VYEPTI has proven much more effective. Finally, even though all of these new drugs are part of the anti-CGRP class of drugs, this one is not similar to Aimovig, which I could not tolerate, but is similar to Emgality which was partially successful.
I have to be at Dartmouth Health at 8:15 am Monday morning. I’ll be there early (if God’s willing) because they told me that if I was late in the least they’d have to reschedule because they keep a really tight schedule for this treatment. The appointment is scheduled for two hours, though the infusion is supposed to only take 30-minutes. The treatment won’t be cheap, so I signed up for VYEPTI’s copay assistance program. For signing up, they sent me a welcome pack to make the IV treatment easier. It included: a backpack, journal and pen, eye mask, ear plugs, and hot and cold packs for the IV entry point to relieve any discomfort that it might cause.
I’m running out of migraine treatment options, so I am praying that this will provide some relief.
Thursday, July 28, 2022
Wednesday, July 27, 2022
Tuesday, July 26, 2022
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? (Sonnet 18)
By William Shakespeare - 1564-1616
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow'st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
I usually post this poem every summer. It’s my favorite of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Sonnets are one of my favorite forms of poetry. I used to love teaching sonnets back when I taught British literature. I’ve always loved the intricacy of various forms of poetry. Sonnets may be my a favorite, but I also love villanelles. A sonnet is a fourteen-line poem written in iambic pentameter, employing one of several rhyme schemes (Italian/Petrarchan, English/Shakespearean, Spenserian, Miltonic, and a few others), and adhering to a tightly structured thematic organization. In contrast, a villanelle, also known as villanesque, is a nineteen-line poetic form consisting of five tercets followed by a quatrain, but I’m not going to bore you with the intricacies of a villanelle. For me, the two masters of the sonnet form were Shakespeare and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, whose Sonnets from the Portuguese includes “How do I love thee?” (Sonnet 43).
Back to the poem above, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 is arguably his most famous, and it is absolutely beautiful. I love the final lines:
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
But did you know that Shakespeare also wrote a sonnet in contrast to Sonnet 18? It is known as “My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun” (Sonnet 130). Instead of celebrating his mistress’s beauty, Shakespeare Sonnet 130 mocks the conventions of the showy and flowery courtly sonnets in its realistic portrayal of his mistress. In the three quatrains, he describes how homely and ordinary his mistress is, but in the final couplet, the speaker proclaims his love for his mistress by declaring that he makes no false comparisons, the implication being that other poets do precisely that (and what Shakespeare did in Sonnet 18).. Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 aims to do the opposite, by indicating that his mistress is the ideal object of his affections because of her genuine qualities, and that she is more worthy of his love than the paramours of other poets who are more fanciful. As much as I like Sonnet 18, I also love Sonnet 130. It seems to say, “She might not be pretty or perfect, but he loves her more deeply because his love for her transcends everything else.”
It’s not what’s on the outside, but what’s on the inside. We all know those beautiful people who are perfection on the outside, but ugly on the inside. They may be nice to look at, but they certainly aren’t nice to be around. Then, there are the truly beautiful people. There are the rare ones who are both beautiful on the outside and the inside, but it’s the beauty on the inside that really matters.
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun (Sonnet 130)
By William Shakespeare - 1564-1616
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
Monday, July 25, 2022
Sunday, July 24, 2022
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
—2 Timothy 4:7
One of my favorite Bible verses is 2 Timothy 4:7, which says, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." When I pass on from this world, I would like the epitaph on my tombstone to simply be: 2 Timothy 4:7. I hope that's a long time in coming, but I want to live this life in a way that when I "finish the race" people can say that I fought the good fight and kept the faith. Even if people don't think it when I am gone, I hope I will leave this world believing that.
When I come up against people who disagree with my way of life, ethics, philosophy, and faith, I think of Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." I know that I have not always fit into the crowd, and quite honestly, it's alright as long as I remain faithful to who I am and have remained on the narrow path.
I spent many years of my life hiding who I was. I hid in the closet because that was the path of least resistance, and I was trying to be part of the crowd and fit in. However, over the years, I have learned that accepting and loving myself is far more important than being accepted and loved by everyone. The Dutch writer and theologian Henri J.M. Nouwen said, "You don't think your way into a new kind of living. You live your way into a new kind of thinking."
In Star Trek, Spock was always fond of saying the Vulcan philosophy, "Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." However, minority rights would always be trampled upon if this were true. Under this philosophy, we would be forced to remain in the closet because the beliefs (which some people confuse with needs) of the many would outweigh the few. This week, I watched the Star Trek homage, The Orville, and Dolly Parton made a guest appearance. In the episode, one of the characters knows that if she does one thing to save the life of another, then a great many people will suffer. Dolly gives her some advice (and I am paraphrasing), "If you do the right thing now, the rest will sort itself out later."
Matthew 5:12 says, "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." If we do the right thing now, no matter how unpopular or misunderstood it may be, we will receive our reward, and if we continually do the right thing, then we will have earned the epitaph, "2 Timothy 4:7."
Saturday, July 23, 2022
Friday, July 22, 2022
My mother called last night. For a variety of reasons, it depresses me to talk to her these days. One of the things she said to me was, “I should have had three children, then maybe I’d have had a normal one.” WTF! She always has something hurtful to say like that. She always has to get a dig in, though she acts like she’s joking, but she never actually says it in a joking tone.
Then, she started in on “that idiot Biden.” I told her I’d voted for Biden because he was a good Christian who went to church every Sunday, while she voted for Trump who never attends church. The problem is that Biden attending church regularly means nothing to her because she doesn’t believe Catholics are real Christians. She’s not the only ignorant Protestant that believes that. She also sees Biden as godless because he’s a Democrat, so she can’t allow herself to believe he’s a Christian and deludes herself that Trump is a good Christian even though I have no idea how that delusion exists.
I reminded her that she’ll vote for anyone and everyone with a (R) behind their name even if they are a rapist or someone who tried to overthrow the government (Trump) or a child molester (Roy Moore) or any number of complete idiots (ex. Tommy Tuberville). Her response was, “Yes, I will. Do you go to church every Sunday?” I said I don’t because I can’t find a church up here that I like, but I study my Bible every Sunday. I would love to tell her that I have people from all over the world of many faiths who read my devotionals every Sunday and often write to me to tell me what an inspiration they find my writing. She would just get mad and not understand. She can barely use the internet, so it would do no good.
She just pisses me off so much! And, she wonders why I don’t call her. I will probably go home at Christmas, but it’s more to see friends of mine than to see my family. I know I’ll be depressed and made to feel like crap while I’m home. The only enjoyment I get from being with my parents these days is doing all of the cooking while I’m home. I can immerse myself into that and disregard the rest, at least for a little while. I don’t think she understands just how much my mental health and physical health (except for the headaches) have improved over the past couple of years that I haven’t been home because of the pandemic.
Thursday, July 21, 2022
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of the ‘Respect for Marriage Act,’ a major step toward protecting the rights of married couples who could face future threats from discriminatory forces eager to overturn U.S. Supreme Court precedent on the freedom to marry for same-sex couples and interracial couples. Only 47 of the 211 Republican Representatives votes with the Democrats to pass the legislation. It now goes to the Senate, where its prospects are uncertain, as it requires at least 10 Republican votes to defeat a filibuster. So far the same-sex marriage protections have only one GOP backer: Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. The puts GOP senators in a bind, caught between their minority culturally conservative base, which opposes same-sex marriage, and a large majority of the country that wants it to remain legal.
Tuesday, July 19, 2022
A Summer Night
By Elizabeth Drew Stoddard
I feel the breath of the summer night,
The trees, the vines, the flowers are astir
With tender desire.
The white moths flutter about the lamp,
Enamoured with light;
And a thousand creates softly sing
A song to the night!
But I am alone, and how can I sing
Praises to thee?
Come, Night! unveil the beautiful soul
That waiteth for me.
About the Poet
Elizabeth Drew Stoddard was born in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, in 1823. She published both prose and poetry during her lifetime, including Poems (Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1895). She died in 1902.
Monday, July 18, 2022
Sunday, July 17, 2022
And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
American author, professor, and philosopher Sam Keen wrote, "Burnout is what happens when you try to avoid being human for too long." Sometimes, we want to do it all. We've probably all heard, "If you want something done, do it yourself." This quote is sometimes attributed to emperor Napoléon Bonaparte or dramatist Charles-Guillaume Étienne, a contemporary of Napoléon. I've said it myself more than once, especially after delegating a task to someone who did it subpar. But doing everything yourself is not practical. So the next best alternative is learning to trust others better and empower people. We will burn ourselves out if we try to do everything in pursuit of perfection.
We also have to allow others to shine; it is better to help them shine than to be the only beacon of light. There are times when it is necessary for us to take the credit for a job well done or even demand the recognition we deserve and let our own light shine, but there are also times when it can be much more rewarding to see others succeed because you helped them. The 13th-century Persian poet Rumi wrote, "A candle never loses any of its light while lighting up another candle." I like this quote, but I think it can condition behavior that ironically negates its truth. It can cause us to overextend ourselves, helping others without tending to our own needs, subsequently causing our personal "light" to dim. So, don't give another person your light; let your light ignite them.
God expects us to be the light that will guide others. He does not expect us to give away our light but to share it. In Matthew 5:15-16, Jesus says, "Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Jesus tells the parable of the lamp on the stand to encourage his followers to stand out, to be an example, and not to hide away. The message in this parable would have been challenging for the first Christians, who were cruelly persecuted. They may have hidden their faith as they did not want to be tortured, imprisoned, or killed because of it. Jesus is saying that for the Christian message to spread and develop, followers must proclaim and show their faith.
As LGBTQ+ Christians, we may often find ourselves playing down our faith because many in the LGBTQ+ community disdain religion. I understand being hurt by religion and turning away from it. I don't like most evangelical Christians, but that is because they are often hypocrites who want to impose their narrow beliefs on everyone. These same Christians pervert the words of the Bible to suit their selfish ways. They teach many LGBTQ+ Christians to hate themselves and the LGBTQ+ community. We cannot allow self-hatred because of sexuality. Self-hatred is one of our greatest enemies within the LGBTQ+ community. We have to love ourselves before we can show our love for others. We have to accept that we are God's children, and He loves all of us just the way He created us. After all, He created us in His image.
I have always believed it was better to spread the goodness and love that God gives us instead of trying to impose my beliefs on others. If we live by example and bring to light the instances when religious individuals turn to hate instead of love, we can be that lamp on the lampstand that sheds light on the truth that God loves all of us. As LGBTQ+ Christians (or any LGBTQ+ individual with faith in a higher good), we must shine a light on the hypocrisy prevalent in so many religious individuals today. In Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus tells us:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them."
We have an obligation to point out the bad fruit, those who teach a false Biblical hate. Hypocrites must be exposed for their hypocrisy, and not let them destroy our faith with their false faith.
I cannot accomplish this alone, and neither can you. We need to spread the light that is our faith: our faith in God, our faith in goodness, and our faith in love. We need to help others shine so we can show the way to living the life God wants for us. We must live by example and shine our light around the room so that others can see. And finally, we need to call out the bad fruit for the harm they are doing. Too often, people become stubborn in their beliefs. They see what they are doing is wrong, but they are too hardheaded to change their ways. Others are too arrogant to realize that they are wrong. We need the be the light that can guide the way.